Southern Scotch

Southern Scotch

Saturday, May 19, 2018

How I Became a Time Traveler

I didn't need a time machine to go back 50 years in poundage.

All it took was a Vegan diet and persistent exercise over the course of a year to take me back to my high school weight...and my long lost 32" waist.

Last year I got serious because I'd grown too old for clowning around. I changed to a physically demanding job, went completely Vegan and joined a local gym. My weight plummeted dramatically--from 200# to 145# and my waistline, of course, went down with it: from 40" to 33"...then 32-3/4".

I should have felt good for a man of my age. Maybe I should have felt great. I did not, though: the CG (crowning glory) mocked me, as did the mini-roll of lard around my waist.. I bought items for home workouts: an Iron Gym pull up bar with straps for hanging crunches and leg lifts.

The cargo pants I wore for work only came in even sizes, so I wore 34s with suspenders, worn also to hold up my loose 33" jeans. I felt a like a hick from the country. Furthermore, I felt alarmed: my waist had gone down but my weight had gone up from 145 to 150. Still, the Iron Gym bar and straps were already showing results. So possibly, just possibly...

I didn't know. I only knew that I refused to be mocked any more by the magic number.

Yesterday I went to Macy's, half hopeful the weight gain was muscle, not fat, and half braced for heartbreak


I ended up leaving with three pairs of 32" slim fit Ring of Fire jeans and a belt instead of suspenders. And all were had at ridiculous low prices.

I felt back in the day in a new kind of way and ready for brave new adventures.

And here's my highest hope for you:

Don't surrender your own crowning glory to time or circumstance for as long as I did. Don't be too quick in assuming that gravity's against you and that the odds are too high. Don't let even your best friends discourage you. There is a way, there is always a way, to realize your dreams

Spare yourself the misery of waking up daily and telling the face that you see in the mirror:

Maybe next year...or the next year...or the year or the decade that follow...

Start today with confidence that your CG awaits you!

Sunday, May 6, 2018

My Date with a Bad Redhead: Week One Summing Up

No, I haven't been invited to the Playboy Mansion yet. But week one of Rachel Thompson's The BadRedhead Media 30-Day Marketing Challenge helped me accomplish a list of cool things.
Focusing on Twitter:
--I fine-tuned my bio and display name, including a hyperlink to my new book.
--I experimented with 'pinning; a Tweet to my Twitter timeline.
--To help build my Twitter base, I began using ManageFlitter's Pro plan for $12/month. It's not quite as user friendly as my old plan from JustUnfollow. But JU is no more and CrowdFire, its replacement, didn't pass muster with me. My main issues with ManageFlitter so far are these: I'm not receiving notice when I've been followed or unfollowed. And I haven't figured out how to organize nonfollowers by date (and I don' want to unfollow anyone I've only recently followed). I've messaged MF about both scores and will update in my next report
--I've also learned o dump blank profiles and inactives.
--I'm learning how to target readers of my genre.
--Rachel provides other invaluable tips for maximizing Twitter use: the proper use of hashtags
, Hootsuite, Buzzfeed, Pablo by Buffer, etc.

The excitement continues to build in week two, which jumps straight into Facebook. The first chapter inspired me to set up an Author page. But let's save that for Week two's Summing Up.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

My Date with a Bad Redhead

While the year is still young--the year I'd called My Year--it was time for a date with a redhead.

I'd accomplished a lot in 2018
--I'd moved, finally, to a very good address.
--I'd published the lead title in my new mystery series and started work on the sequel.
--I'd succeeded with my plan to garner more revies.
--I'd just won a much better job.
--I'd added the star of my little home: an Iron Gym pull-up bar with arm straps for vertical leg lifts. And in only a couple of weeks I've seen remarkable progress in both my core and abs.


I still hadn't achieved visibility on Amazon and my sales reflected that. Luckily, a Facebook post by Claude Bouchard alerted me to a hot little book written by a bad redhead.

I felt skeptical...until I clicked the Look Inside button. This slender book gets right down to business, beginning in week one with Twitter. Day One alone taught me:
--To stop thinking of Twitter as a primarily a sales tool but more as a channel for networking and visibility, for connecting with readers.
--How to best use new option of a lengthened display name (up to 50 characters), including a hashtag.
--How to jazz up and verb my bio in  150 characters, including a link to my new book, The Big Bopper.
--How to use the Location section as space to add more copy.

                                           Image result for twitter images

My main takeaways from this first chapter: the absolute imperative of a You, not Me, approach, plus simplicity and speed from the heart of the center of Now.  Example: instead of a bio beginning with my start as Kelley Wilde in horror, the names of my trad publishers, my change of direction from horror to noir, my location, this:

Display name: Reb MacRath, #Award-winning Author
In lieu of a bio: I write short thrillers committed to the art of thinking small. At 5'4", my new hero does just that in his own unforgettable way.
In lieu of location: Of note: My first book, The Suiting, won a Stoker Award and has been called one of the world's 100 most influential horror novels.

I plan to tackle this 30-day challenge one trick, not one chapter, a day.

Here's a link to the Kindle edition, which you'll want to buy instead of the print.

The hard copy comes with a problem, I learned: the scores of useful hyperlinks embedded in the ebook are 'dead' in the printed text. You may not mind retyping, but often instead of a link that's spelled out you'll see Click here, nothing else.

Other than that, it's a terrific little book. And I can hardly wait till I graduate to week 2, in which we get to Facebook.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

On Bettering a Good Address

Well, it took me a long enough to reach this destination, the place I now call my GA.

But last night I removed the last small box from my old studio in Pioneer Square, dropping off my keys. And that was when I could honestly say I'd stopped moving and had moved. From Pioneer Square to First Hill...from the Tooney to the toney part of old Rain City.

Soon I'll post some photos of the hardwood floors, my first writer's desk and the wide open spaces. 
Today I want to toy with thoughts of the shifting that I feel within me.

On all fronts I want my life in harmony with my GA: a fusion of confidence, brio and boldness. I want these three things in my writing, my work, my promotional tacks, my relationships.

Speaking of work, for example...Why am I working for less than I'm worth? And where can I find a position that gives me more funding for ads? Quality of life: how can I get weekends off and holidays with pay?

From the GA an endless chain of linked thoughts commences. And here's the tune I have in mind:

Friday, March 16, 2018

Movin' to a Good Address

Now, after 3-1/2 years in Seattle, I get to re-enact my cross-country moving adventure, in a move of just 2 miles at roughly twelve times the speed.

I'd been by the logistics of moving for months. The biggest challenge: how to avoid paying full rent on both places for a month. forAt last, I gave notice on my present place on 3/10 with nothing for certain lined up. This was a huge gamble but one that paid off. For on 3/12 I learned that a studio had opened up in my first choice building. The price was a bit higher than I'd expected and I'd have to move in within 14 days of approval--in this case, by 3/26.  But the place was perfect in all other ways:
--Top floor studio with hard wood floors and a a closet big enough to serve as my first office ever.
--Great location--a real Good Address.
--Amazon-style lockers for deliveries.
--Vast laundry machine with payment by credit/debit card.

To reach my goal, a steely triad was the sine qua non: the need for razor-sharp focus...speed...and strategic thinking.

Here's my progress so far with the triad.
1) Movers: post notices at work and in the building lobby. Offer $100 plus bonuses if they show on time and don't break my Kenneth Cole standing valet.
2) Boxes: research led me to Frog Boxes and a phone call cinched the deal. At a reasonable cost I'm having 15 large plastic totes delivered to my present address on 3/21, then picked up on at the new address on 3/28. These will be sturdy and uni-sized, easy for movers to stack on dollies...and easy for me to pack in an organized way. 15 totes will be more than enough, since I've already boxed all my books and DVDs.

3) Furniture: recently, I bought a good used desk and bookcase in advance, knowing they might both be gone when I moved. Today I'll scope out a few other basics at the same place--and pay to have them delivered on the day I move.

And this is why I've been absent from this blog for so long. For New Year's I decided: 2018 was the time to come out swinging on all fronts, beginning with a long-time dream of a writer's office.

And mine will look something like this in good time.

Friday, February 16, 2018

The Circus and The Hustle

Who doesn't claim to hate--in some cases even sincerely--the circus surrounding the launch of an ebook?  Barnum & Bailey may have collapsed its tents after 146 years but the spirit is alive and well online on any day.

Introverted writers are forced to compete with the extros for reviews, blog tours and interviews. At the end of the day there are only two classes: the quick and the dead.

Until now I've been one of the haters, clinging stubbornly to notions of good old days that never were, when all the writers were good pals, supporting one another until the cows came home. And so I wrote and published book after book, with no sense of the business behind sales success or the method of getting reviews.

For the new year I made a solemn vow to get my hustle on. 

I'm still growing as I go, but here is my report so far:
1) I've lined up a second reading at Seattle's Noir at the Bar, a chance to meet more writers and perfect my live reading skills.
2) I'm slowly balancing my bank of Facebook Friends to include more mystery/thriller writers. Because of my past writing in horror, the Friend requests I first received were largely in the genre. 
3) In March I'll launch the first title in my new Seattle BOP series. The new direction needed a new look, so I've changed cover designers. 
4) In the past few weeks I've contacted some pro portrait photographers with an eye on obtaining the right one for a late summer shoot. I chose the right one yesterday.
5) I've cemented my timeline for May. I'm saving like a maniac and orchestrating like Leonard Bernstein. To make my own way in the circus, I need a place with an office...and, by God, a writer's desk.
6) I investigated thoroughly legitimate methods of getting reviews. Plus how and whom I should approach. 
7) Today I began to implement my Top Secret plan. 

Busy? You betcha. But the funny thing is you won't hear me singing the blues about this. To tell the truth, I dig the hustle.

Friday, February 2, 2018

The First 5 Pages: Series Interruptus: Chapter 2

So I downloaded the free sample of Claude Bouchard's 13th Vigilante thriller, Make It Happen. Now. as this blog made clear last week I was looking forward to reading it. Naturally, you'd assume that I plunged right into it. After all, samples usually run up to 25 pages, no more. But the reading didn't go that way. I held back till the following morning. Why?

1)  The first reason was a scary one, based on my memories of agents and my reading of one scary agent's horrifying book:

In Noah Lukeman's version of hell, agents coldbloodedly skim the first 5 pages of submissions. Now and then, they'll speed-check 5 pages outs of sequence, looking for howlers, typos or yawns. You don't get 50 pages...or 30...or 20...or 10. You get 5--and then the boot if you haven't hit the ground running.

I knew that my own thinking had grown a lot closer to Lukeman's... and I feared I might not be as easily hooked as I had been years ago.

2) Plus, I was six books behind in the series and I wanted a binary mindset: reading as both a truant Vigilante fan and a reader who was new to Bouchard.

Come morning, I felt ready ready to do so.  And now I present my own

--To begin at the end of the 23-page sample, I felt hooked enough to buy the book, on which I'll report next week. Today let's consider the purpose of samples and why this one succeeds.
--Though the sample concludes with a hell of a bang, Claude Bouchard starts on a quietly ominous note: a lone motorbike rider in Pakistan putters along a dirt road toward a dilapidated farmhouse, in truth little more than a shack. The tone is gravely measured: 'He was well aware that he might be heading into a trap and, if he was, he had nobody else to blame but himself. After all, he had set the wheels in motion which had eventually led to this impending meeting...which might...put him in peril and even result in his demise.' Within three more pages, he's led by armed guards to the man he's come to meet: Abdel Omar Al-Tashid, the self-appointed leader of the State of Islam.
--By steady and subtle degrees, we're brought closer and closer to the two men's objectives. Then the narrative cuts deftly to characters preparing for an air show in Canada. Then to a terrorist who's come to implement the plan. I emphasize the smoothness of the writing because a writer less skilled or confident than Bouchard would have felt the need to zip along and hurry to the Good Part. For Bouchard every page is a polished part of the book's procession.
--The Big Bang at the end of the sample is as powerfully 'shot' as a big budget film. The writing technique brings out the big guns of style. And yet I was moved to buy this book before the big bang. I dug the smoothness of the writing. The fine touches of characterization. The assured sense of pacing. Sold.
--And what of Series Interruptus, my arriving here so far behind? There's no sign, by the sample's end, of the former vigilante, Chris Barry, or his cop-friend Dave McCall. Though the story's easy to follow, I'm left with a pleasant sense of mystery. A Vigilant novel without Chris Barry and/or Dave McCall?
--The cover, by the way, does a mighty fine job in portraying the explosive storyline.
--And talk about ending on a cliffhanger: I don't know if Bouchard planned the sample cut-off point, but few readers of the sample are not going to need to read on.

Till next week!